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Are you respecting the environment?

Here Laarni Cornista-Hollebon, our Green Force Champion, shares her views on sustainability, concerns about our planet, and discusses how the Lexington Reception Services team is responding to the real environmental challenges we face today.

“In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see…if you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.”

This is notan extract from Greta Thunberg’s damning speech to the UN from a few weeks ago. It is taken from a speech given in 1992 by then 13-year-old Severn Suzuki, at the UN Conference of Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The message and the issue rings hard and true.

In recent times, we have seen global news dominated by reports of the negative impact that destruction of the natural environment has and will continue to have on our world. We are lectured on the dangers of single use plastics, the millions of trees cut down to make paper that is not recycled, the literally breathtaking rate at which the Amazon, regarded as the world’s lung, is disappearing. Images of strangled, poisoned, maimed and now extinct wildlife are commonplace. We have been told repeatedly that time, opportunity and resources are running out, that the damage already done and that continues to be done spells nothing short of doom for future generations and what remains of the planet we will leave to them.

Earth Overshoot Day, the calendar date that marks the annual point at which humans have exhausted all natural sources that the planet can sustainably supply in twelve months, was marked this year on the 29thJuly – two months earlier than it was 20 years ago.

So, what is to be done? How can we show greater respect to the world we all live in? And how is Lexington Reception Services responding to this crisis that we face?

We have created LRS Green Force, which was inaugurated at the beginning of this year. LRS Green Force is a combination of monthly environmental campaigns aiming to promote environmental initiatives within each reception team, building team and across the LRS portfolio.​

Its main purpose is to slow down and if possible avert climate change by making appropriate environmentally-focused changes not just within the work place but in our homes, using initially short-term challenges to change mindsets and habits for the long-term.​ It may sound trite, even cliché, but every little change helps!

Here is a quick snapshot of what Green Force has focused on so far…

Through a host of different events and media platforms LRS has encouraged the following:

– Avid recycling and products made exclusively from recycled or sustainable materials

– Avoidance of products containing palm oil and single use plastics

– Avoiding unnecessary food waste

– Conserving energy

– Cleaning up and assisting the growth of the natural environment

February focus: Palm Oil

In February 2019, Belgrave House and 200 Aldersgate promoted Palm Oil awareness through informative posters around site.

Palm Oil Awareness Month

March focus: Trees for Cities

In March this year we, along with several volunteers from head office and multiple LRS sites, collaborated with Trees for Cities, a non-profit organisation aiming to increase the amount of greenery in urban environments to benefit communities. We spent a day planting over 350 trees, improving biodiversity, air quality and helping to make the existing hedgerow a green space perfect for families from within and outside the local community to enjoy together.

30th March 2019: Earth Hour

Grosvenor held a plastic free week and Belgrave House switched off their electricity to hold a candlelit yoga session to mark Earth Hour.

May focus: Fit Bit Challenge

May saw LRS staff participate in the Fit Bit Challenge, which was won in an impressive tie between 2 staff members at 200 Aldersgate, who accumulated over 860,000 steps between them – together we took over 7 million steps for National Walking Month.

June focus: World Environment Day

World Environment Day is held on the 5thJune, so Green Force marked the occasion by encouraging recycling, promoting non-profit organisations who transform recyclable waste and highlighting recycling efforts made across the country, not least the impressive Shangri-La Gas Tower Arena at Glastonbury which was constructed of recycled plastic waste.

July focus: Zero food waste

In July, we aimed to reduce food waste to zero, recommending economy gastronomy; saving time and money as well as reducing energy used and the amount of potential leftovers. At 200 Aldersgate the 200 Café has been offering generous discounts on all consumable unsold produce every Friday afternoon in a bid to avoid unnecessarily throwing food away at the end of each week. The café is continuing this initiative as we speak.

August focus: KeepCup

In August Green Force successfully collaborated with KeepCup arguing for a move away from buying bottles of water and hot drinks in single use cups from supermarkets and cafes. So many beverages are inevitably contained in plastic that finds its way into landfill and worse, parks, streams, rivers and the stomachs of wildlife.

By offering LRS staff an exclusive discount on KeepCup’s handy portable goods Green Force encouraged a more responsible attitude towards consumption and reminded clients and employees alike that the benefits can be financial as well as ethical – just a quick glance at any high street will reveal several chains that offer discounts to customers providing their own containers.

September focus: Paperless

Last month Green Force urged sites to go paperless, to switch to electronic shared documents, to think twice about printing emails, to recycle used paper when printing is unavoidable and to consider alternatives to non-recyclable paper products. Green Force posters were displayed across on site-specific monitors to bypass printing altogether.

An origami display made from recycled and scrap paper (birthday card envelopes, gift bags and unwanted children’s craft materials among them) went on display at 200 Aldersgate.

Looking ahead, what are the initiatives Green Force is hoping to implement for the future?

Sadly the Christmas season brings with it mountains of waste. Many people are still unaware that gift wrap with a metallic finish or a glittery pattern is frequently unsuitable for recycling due to the compound materials used in its production. Green Force is planning to raise awareness about this festive waste to encourage our team, clients and customers to reconsider the materials you use to wrap your presents and what is done with the packaging afterwards.

As we move into 2020 there are initiatives we are keen to revisit, such as tree planting, and reducing food waste through volunteering to support organisations such as Fare Share, which collects unused food produce from supermarkets and businesses and redistributes it to homeless shelters and underprivileged families reliant on food banks.

This year the International Conference on Water Pollution, Recycling and Waste Water was held in London and with this in mind Green Force hopes to assist with a future waterways clean-up with Bywaters. Clean Beauty and Sustainable Beauty have become keywords in the cosmetic and skincare industries and with this in mind Green Force is reaching out to brands that take sustainability and zero waste seriously in the formulation of their products. Watch this space for further news of future collaborations.

The task ahead is not obscure. As Greta Thunberg said,“The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do.”

Green Force’s objective is to show respect to our world by caring for it. We aim to eliminate the elements that do it harm, promote environmentally conscious techniques and implement initiatives that take root and are not one-off token gestures but acts that, though difficult, that require concentrated effort, thought and daily commitment have the greatest impact. Respect is the bare minimum that our planet deserves.

To find out more about Green Force please contact us at